Running is a healthy pastime that can help you maintain an appropriate weight and improve your physical fitness. However, if you don't take the proper precautions, running can also lead to injuries. One of the most vulnerable parts of the body for runners is the ankle.
Why are the ankles vulnerable?
Running puts a significant amount of stress on your ankles. With each step, your ankle absorbs some impact. If the joint isn't healthy, or if you are not using the correct technique, you can injure the ankle easily. Perhaps the most common running-related ankle injury is a sprain, which causes swelling, bruising, tenderness, discoloration of the skin, and stiffness.
Three ways to prevent ankle injuries
There are certain steps you can take to avoid injuring your ankles during a run. Below are three important tips that will help you avoid ankle injuries.
1. Stretch before and after exercising.
Stretching improves the flexibility of your ankle and ensures that it is able to move through its full range of motion. It also helps the surrounding muscles and connective tissues to warm up and loosen before you begin running. After you are finished exercising, stretching helps you to cool down and work through any tightness that may have developed while you were running.
2. Do exercises to improve strength and balance.
When your ankle is strong and stable, injuries are less likely. Doing specific exercises, such as heel raises and range-of-motion exercises, improves the strength of your ankle so it can handle more activity without being as susceptible to injury. These exercises also improve your balance, so you are less likely to fall or roll your ankle when you are running.
3. Wrap your ankle if necessary.
If you have already injured your ankle in the past, or if you have reason to believe your ankle may be more susceptible to injury than most, you may need to wrap your ankle before you run. Using athletic tape, you can stabilize your ankle and reduce the risk of injuries. Be sure to wrap your ankle each time you run. Avoid wrapping too tightly, as this can lead to circulation problems, discomfort, and other issues.
Even with the best preventative measures, ankle injuries can still occur. If you think you may have injured your ankle, Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine can help. We can also help you learn more ways to protect your ankles and other joints during exercise. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.